The library is closing down so I’ve gone to see what books they are giving away. If I could I’d bring everything home but since the house already looks like a library I’ll try hard to just pick the best books. I promise!
The library is closing down so I’ve gone to see what books they are giving away. If I could I’d bring everything home but since the house already looks like a library I’ll try hard to just pick the best books. I promise!
I don’t know what was going through Kim’s mind that day. Only that she wanted to be left alone. My old gran would’ve said that girl was away with the clouds and why couldn’t I find someone normal to have as a girlfriend?
I didn’t want normal though. I wanted the unexpected and unusual. I wanted more excitement then a cheerleader – who were way out of my zone anyway and more beautiful then the geeks and nerd girls. Saying that though, Kim was a bit of a geek. Though she always denied it.
We were meant to have a date that evening. But as we left school, Kim told me it was off then left without another word. I pondered as I walked home if that meant we had broken up, but Kim would have said that. She was a girl of few words and when she spoke it was only to say what she meant.
The late afternoon was pleasant enough, for the end of March. There’d been a lot of rain recently, but it was a mostly dry and sunny day. I didn’t much feel like going home. But I was feeling stuffy in my uniform. So, I headed there to get changed.
There was plenty of things I could do, like homework or playing on my Xbox, maybe seeing if anyone else was up for hanging out. I wasn’t in the mood though. Kim had put me off and my thoughts were fixed on her.
What was her reason? She’d never cancelled on me before and we’d been dating for five months or so now. Yes, I wanted to sleep with her, but I was willing to wait. If she’d been ill or busy with something else, why didn’t she just say? It had been simply, ‘I can’t meet tonight. Sorry.’
I could text or call her, but Kim wasn’t one for phones. Instead, I decided to go and see if I could just find her by wondering about. A crazy, long shot of an idea, but it had worked before.
Grabbing a jacket, I left and walked around our small town. I checked Kim’s house, but there was no one home. I checked the school, but it was now locked for the night. I searched shops, the library, the little parks. Finally, I walked out to the woods.
There were a handful of dog walkers, a jogger and some school kids from the other high school dotted around. I was about to give up, maybe she’d gone out of town? Some emergency she couldn’t tell me about? Other ideas popped into my head and my feet came to a stop.
I was facing the river. The water was flowing gently, causing the grass and tree branches which dipped in to move also. It was a pretty spot. I looked further to my right watching the river moving past me. Something caught my eyes. There was a large branch stretching over the river and laying on it was Kim!
She still had her uniform on, but she had let down her long black hair. There was a book covering her face and her school bag was hanging up close by. She seemed to be asleep.
I walked over and lent around the tree. It was easy enough to climb up and walk over, but I didn’t want to. Instead, I said Kim’s name gently and tried to wake her. It took a few attempts.
‘Go away, Dustin,’ Kim said.
‘Why? What are you doing?’ I asked.
‘Communicating with this book,’ she replied.
I frowned, ‘why?’
‘Because it’s hard and I’m trying to understand it. Now go away!’
‘Is that why you cancelled our date?’ I asked.
‘No,’ Kim answered.
I waited, but she didn’t say any more. I rubbed my fingers over the bark of the tree and felt how rough and dry it was. Kim just lay there, book still over her face.
‘Then, why?’ I pressed.
‘Because I wasn’t in the mood,’
I put cheek to the tree trunk and stared at her. Kim had really nice legs. She wasn’t wearing tights or leggings today, a sure sign the weather was getting warmer. Her skirt was knee length though and give her the cover she needed. Her blouse was still tucked in and I could see it swelling around her chest when she breathed in. Even though I hadn’t seen them yet, Kim had small boobs.
I couldn’t decided what to do. From her demeanour it was clear I should go, but I didn’t want to. There was enough room on the branch for me if I wanted to sit close to her feet. Or, I could sit at the foot of the tree. What was the point in waiting for her when she’d made it clear she didn’t want me though?
‘I guess, I should go,’ I said, a little too loudly.
Kim finally took the book off her face and looked at me.
I lent off the tree and got ready to make a move.
‘You don’t have,’ Kim said, ‘I’m bored anyway.’
She sat up and shuffled along the branch. She put the book in her bag, tugged it down and put the strap over her head. The she clung on to the tree trunk and slowly climbed down. I helped her over the last bit then give her a hug.
‘What’s the book about?’ I asked.
‘Seventeen century witches’ plays,’ she added.
Kim held my hand and we began walking.
‘Yeah, because people in the sixteen hundreds loved witches.’
I nodded, noticing the sarcasm in her voice. Kim swung our hands and we headed down a quiet little path.
‘Maybe, you can help me figure it out later?’ she said.
‘Sure. Does this mean we get to have our date after all?’ I asked.
‘I guess…You’re going to pay for dinner, right?’
I shook my head, unbelieving that and Kim laughed at me.
He watches and awaits by the front door, listening as footsteps go up and down the street. He growls as he hears the mailman approach and a shuffling of papers. The letter flap is fluttering and it’s raining inside the house. He jumps, catching white and brown papers which he rips and throws about. He snatches the last few out of a hand he can’t see and tears the letters up.
Afterwards, he sits, tail wagging and tongue lolling, his task of defending his home and family complete.
Lucas opened his front door, ready to set off to work and almost walked straight into the deliveryman. The youngish man was half hidden behind the large cardboard box he was carrying both hands.
‘Mr. Bennett?’ the deliveryman asked.
‘Yes?’ Lucas replied as he eyed the box.
‘I need you to sign for this….’
The deliveryman placed the box down, breathed a big blow of air then took out his electric device.
Lucas sighed for it, the letters like a child’s first attempts at writing.
‘Thanks,’ the deliveryman said and hurried away.
Lucas looked down at the box. He hadn’t ordered anything, nor was it close to his birthday or Christmas. He tried to nudge the box inside his apartment, but it was too heavy. Picking it up, he put it next to the sofa.
He paused really wanting to open it, but he was going to be late for work. Deciding it would have to wait, Lucas dashed out.
His day was boring and long. He answered the phone and sent emails, he dealt with a few cases that were in his inbox. He had a quiet lunch in the park and then went back to his desk. He avoided his co-workers as much as possible. He didn’t mind them really, but the woman were always so loud and gossipy and the men; only talking about sport and being overly flirty with the ladies.
When Lucas got home he sank on to the sofa and looked at the ceiling, exhausted. Then he remembered the large box from this morning and hurried to open it. He ripped the duck tape off and yanked back the cardboard flaps.
Inside was a case of twelve bottles of wine.
He took one out and looked at it. He didn’t know much about wine. He read the label; a deep fruity red from France. Setting it aside, he pulled out another one. It was different; a light refreshing red from California. He selected a third: a full bodied red from Africa.
One by one he pulled out the other bottles and looked at them. They were all red wines from around the world.
Lucas put them back in the box and closed the flaps. He looked at the label; Mr L. Bennatt. A slight misspelling of his surname. Then his full address, but the number of his apartment was wrong.
Lucas tapped the lid then began looking for a note or a receipt of any kind. Finding nothing, he shrugged and pulled out on the bottles that had taken his fancy.
A month later, he was coming back from work, his thoughts on opening another bottle from the mysterious wine case, when he saw a man at his door. The man was tall and wearing comfy clothes. He had dark hair and looked about Lucas’s age – middle thirties.
‘Can I help you?’ Lucas called over.
‘Do you live here?’ the man asked.
‘Yes,’ Lucas answered.
‘I live in the apartment above. I moved in two months back. I’m Luke Bennatt. Pleased to meet you.’
‘Lucas Bennett,’ he replied, without thinking.
The man held his hand out and Lucas shook it as he felt a sinking feeling in his belly.
‘I was expecting a case of wine and I believe it might have been delivered to you by mistake due to our names being so close in spelling.’
‘Wine?’ Lucas questioned.
‘Yes. It would have been in a big heavy box. Have you seen it?’ Luke asked.
Lucas paused as if thinking then said, ‘no, I don’t think so…’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Positive. I’ve never been into drinking it myself,’ Lucas added, ‘well it was nice to have meet you…’
‘Yes of course. Thank you,’ Luke spoke and turned away.
Lucas watched him leave then hurried inside. He went straight to the box of wine that was set on his kitchen floor. The lid was open and inside were ten bottles. He debated what to do then decided to hold on to his blessing.
A few days after my twelfth birthday, the first clouds fell from the sky. At first everyone just thought it was snow. The stuff coming down was white and fluffy, so how could it be anything else? Plus, it was late in the night and it was too dark to see the truth.
By later afternoon though, people were beginning to wonder. This morning everyone had just got on, ‘the great British weather,’ ‘chins up everyone!’ ‘It’s only a little snow!’ but it wasn’t and it kept on falling.
I don’t know how the realisation that the clouds were actually falling was reached. I was at in school, trying hard to do maths – a subject I totally disliked- and the teacher had closed the blinds to stop everyone from being distracted. There was a knock on the door and Mr Monty shouted for them to come in.
It was a girl from the class year below us who had been picked to be the office messenger. Everybody got the chances to be messenger once and the day out of class. Though that sounds exciting it totally isn’t and most of the time you are just sat outside the teachers’ lounge room and the receptionist’s office staring at the pale peach walls. Today though, the girl looked out of breath and eager to spill her message.
‘School is being closed! Clouds are falling from the sky!’ she gushed.
Mr Monty looked from the blackboard to her, chalk covering his fingers and a large frown on his face.
‘What?’ he cried over the sudden din of children’s voices.
‘The headmistress said it. Everyone’s parents are coming to get them and we all have to go into the hall!’ she added then walked off in an important hurry.
Mr Monty sighed and left a maths’ question abandoned on the board. Everyone grabbed their things and legged it to the hall. Voices were everywhere, shouting and calling out demanding to know what was going on for real as how could clouds be falling?
Going into the hall, I went to the windows and joined lots of children there. The playground was covered in white fluffy stuff that looked like snow but really wasn’t. Above in the pale blue sky a handful of clouds did hang but as we stood there, one of the clouds began to fall.
It came straight out of the sky and landed silently on top of the other clouds. The jagged shape of it stuck out for a few moments then settled down with the others.
‘It’s not possible!’ a teacher was muttering, ‘how can this even happen?’
‘Children! Attention!’ the headmistress called.
Unhappily, we turned away from the windows to look at her.
‘The school is closing. Your parents are on their ways to collect you and until then we will all stay here. I’m sure this is nothing to worry about but for safety reasons we have to send you all home.’
Some of the kids broke into cheers and others looked upset. I just turned back to the window and looked outside, wondering if my birthday wish had actually come true.
(Inspired by a writing prompt at; https://thewriteedgewritingworkshop.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/writing-prompts-for-monday-february-20-2017/ with thanks.)
I rang the door bell of the mansion and stood on the step waiting. Struggling to control my excitement, I looked at the letter in my hand. The script was large and loopy, almost rushed so that the words blurred together, but I could still make out what it said; the world’s most powerful wizard had hired me to be his cleaner!
My mind rolled with all the things I might see in his house. There’d be a library for sure! Books and books lining the walls. There’d be a lab for making potions, comfy rooms to rest in, kitchens to feast in and spaces to amaze guests in. Oh, it’s going to be so wonderful!
Slowly the door creaked open, light and darkness met in the middle.
‘Hello? I’m Henrietta. The wizard’s new cleaner,’ I declared.
The door got thrown backwards, banging against the side and a loud, booming voice said, ‘Of course you are!’
I felt my heart and stomach jump. The wizard was standing before me! He was very tall and dressed in a bright blue robe with a large pointy hat on his head. There were yellow crest moons and stars on the hat, as was tradition for someone as high up as the wizard. Most of his face was covered in a white curly beard, which was actually shorted then I’d thought it be. Nice blue eyes stared back and the face look youthful.
Suddenly there was a flapping of wings and a large brown bird that had been siting on his shoulder took off and flew past me. I gasped as feather brushed my cheek.
‘Blast! Adrastos! Come back!’ the wizard shouted.
I glanced over my shoulder but the bird was gone into the early afternoon.
‘Was that an owl?’ I asked politely.
‘Damn right it was! And the last I’ll see of him! Took me years to capture and train him! I knew giving him that name was a jinx!’ the wizard yelled.
‘Do you know what Adrastos means?’
I shook my head.
‘Not inclined to run away,’ the wizard answered, ‘and look what’s happened!’
‘Maybe you could tempt him back?’ I asked gently.
The wizard fell to muttering and ignoring me. Peering about and around him, I saw there was a large toad at the wizard’s feet. The toad was croaking but didn’t seem interested in escaping.
‘Well,’ I said, ‘at least your toad stays. Does he have a name?’
The wizard snapped back and looked down to where I was pointing. He scooped the toad up and held it close to his chest.
‘Don’t be silly! Toads are not worthy of names. Now, come in before anything else gets out!’ the wizard snipped.
Nodding, I followed him inside. The hallway was cluttered with coats, shoes, umbrellas and contraptions. A number of kites were on the floor tangled together as if they had just fallen from the sky. Wires dangled down with things attached to them and there was a whole stack of cardboard boxes to my left before the towering staircase.
We went into through a door to the right and I had to stop as the room was jam packed. There were so many things, it was hard to describe them all. Furniture poked out from piles of books, papers, paintings, shinny objects and bric-a-bric. I saw the wizard placing the toad in a cloudy bowl of water then shuffling through a mountain of paper on his desk.
‘Oh my,’ I uttered.
‘I don’t have time to show you around the house,’ the wizard spoke, ‘I’m too busy.’
He waved me away and sat down with a little puff on a stool.
‘Well….where should I start?’ I asked.
‘Where ever you like! But remember when you move something always put it back where you found it! There are some things in this house that are very dangerous,’ the wizard explained.
Without further words, I left and began picking my way through the house. Ever room and hallway was full of stuff, dust and dirt. The place hadn’t been cleaned in decades! How could the world’s most powerful wizard live like this?
Finally, I found the library, the place I had dreamed about and it was nothing like I wanted. Most of the bookcases were empty and the books were scattered on the floor or on the desks and chairs that were dotted around. Dust and spider’s webs covered everything and it seemed no one had been in here in years!
Deciding it would be the place to start. I got down to cleaning. Somehow though, I had a feeling this job wasn’t going to last.
Going out in a hail of bullets and under the wheels of the ten ton lorry was the only way to go. Well, I didn’t have any other choices really because there was no way I was going to jail. The murders they had pinned to me would have meant total life imprisonment and that wasn’t an option.
Committing suicide had also not been an option up until that point, to be honest. I don’t know, maybe, I was thinking I’d dodge the bullets or they’d hit non-important places and that I’d just avoid the lorry’s wheels like they do in the movies. But nope, my number was up.
Once the heavy crushing pain had faded and blackness had come I knew it was the end. When I next opened my eyes, I was standing at the side of the motorway, looking across at the scene. There were flashing red and blue lights everywhere and the sirens were so loud that they blocked the rushing traffic. Though of course, most of the cars were stopping now and people were taking in what had happened.
Police swarmed the scene; searching my fancy BMW, whilst others blocked the view of my body wedged under the lorry. The driver of which was hushed off to one side into a police car like a sleeping baby. The police officers’ whispered voices came to me; is he really dead? The serial killer? The one the papers nicknamed The Red Shadow? He killed ten people we know of, but there maybe hundreds more. Yes, he’s dead. You can see that, can’t you?
I turned away, wondering what to do. Surely a pit to Hell would open up underneath me? I’d be sucked down and spend all eternity being tortured by demons. But I didn’t believe in that.
To the left of me, I saw a black shape peeling itself away from the trees. Ah, the grim reaper coming to claim my soul!
‘Wait….What are you?’ I spoke, the words tumbling from my mouth before I could stop them.
‘I am your reaper, deary,’ replied a sweet old granny’s voice.
Stunned, I just stared. There before me was a small old woman- eighty or ninety odd-she had a hunched back and skin was as wrinkly and folded as one of those weird dogs. She was dressed in a long flowery pink dress, pink handmade cardie and was holding a large blue handbag. Her hair was dyed a strange blue color and she had large glasses perched on the end of her nose.
‘When you are ready, if you’d like to follow me, sweetie,’ she spoke out, ‘you just take as long as you need, okay? No rush.’
I glanced back at the scene behind me. Cars were parked up now and an ambulance had just pulled off the hard shoulder and was trying to get in close so they could collect my body without the public seeing. Police were all ready trying to stop people from coming over.
‘Oh, I think I got some peppermints here. Somewhere,’ the granny said and began searching in her handbag.
‘No, it’s fine,’ I said, ‘who are you really?’
She looked up at me, hand still in her bag, ‘I’m your reaper, deary, come to take you to the other side.’
‘But…I was expecting demons! Devils! A black cloaked skeleton! Black, fire wings!’ I cried.
The old woman chuckled, ‘everyone believes that, but no. We take a different form every time. Everyone is different you know and often they need to be handled differently too.’
‘Do you know who I am?’ I spit.
‘Were. Sweetheart. Who were you?’ she asked then, ‘oh, here are the mints. Care for one? Go on take a handful.’
‘No,’ I stated as I waved my hands and stepped back, when she held out a pink and white stripped paper bag towards me.
‘Not a fan of mints, huh?’ she added with a wink, ‘I got something else in here for you then…’
‘I don’t want anything! Just, let’s go!’ I yelled.
‘Now, now, don’t get upset. I’ll fix it. There now,’ she said and held up a tube of my favorite childhood sweets; lemon sherbet.
She pressed it into my hand, a large smile on her face.
I looked at it in shock then opening the lid, I tossed the white power into my mouth. It tasted just as I remembered; sour and sweet, fizzy and lemony.
‘All better? I knew that would help, petal,’ she said.
I nodded, feeling for the first time in years the sensation of tears in the corner of my eyes.
‘Are you ready to go?’ granny asked.
‘Yes,’ I mumbled out.
She held out a hand which was more like the gnarled, dry root of a dead oak tree.
I took it, feeling no heat or coldness against my own hand.
With her other hand, she patted the top of mine, ‘there, there, deary. It’s all okay now.’
‘So…no demons? No Hell?’
‘Stories!’ she laughed, ‘to scare people. There is no Hell or Heaven. Just the sky.’
I looked up and saw above me the darkening sky.
We started raising towards it. Leaving everything behind. The air rushed around me and as we met the sky, I savored the last taste of sherbet on my tongue.
Harley didn’t feel like getting up this morning but she had done so anyway. Dragging herself out of her cosy warm bed, she headed straight for the bathroom, her stomach growling like an angry bear. Sitting down on the loo, she wondered how many times she had got up in the night to come into here driven by an IBS flare up as punishment of eating too much ice cream. She counted to four before the ringing of the house phone interrupted.
I’m not going to get it. It’s only going to be a cold caller, she thought.
Trying to ignore it, Harley yawed and wondered if she could go back to bed even though it was three minutes past eleven am.
A little dog’s yowling broke though her thoughts and with a growl, she sorted herself out and went to answer the phone.
‘Is that the bus station? I’ve left my library books on the seventeen bus,’ an elderly man’s voice spoke out.
Harley rolled her eyes before answering, ‘I’m sorry but it’s not. You have the wrong number.’
‘There were five books,’ the man continued, ‘The Queen’s Slave, Goldfish Keeping For All, Weave Looming And You, -‘
‘I’m sorry but-‘ Harley tried to cut in but the man carried on speaking over her.
‘London Werewolves and Whenever The Rain Falls Think Of Me,’ the man concluded.
‘They were in a bag for life. You know, the yellow ones with orange elephants on?’
‘This isn’t the bus station!’ Harley shouted, ‘you have the wrong number!’
‘Oh. I’m sorry….Do you know the right number?’ the man asked.
‘No. I don’t,’ Harley snapped and hung up.
Placing the phone down, she wondered what was going on with the crossed over numbers. A cold wet nose and a small licking tongue touched her bare toes and Harley jumped with a cry. She looked down and saw the tiny Yorkshire terrier give a startled yip and jumped back too.
‘Sorry, Yogi,’ Harley spoke and scooped the dog up, ‘just some people…’
Carrying the Yorkie upstairs, Harley set him down on her single bed then went to her wardrobe. Just as she had selected her clothes for the day; old blue jeans, black long sleeved top with a painted wolf angel on it, her Five Finger Death Punch hoodie and boot slippers, the phone rang again. Tutting, she left it to ring until Yogi pulled his head up and let out a mournful yowl.
Racing downstairs, Harley snatched the phone up again.
‘Is that the bus station? I’ve lost my library books,’ the same man’s voice from before came though the phone.
‘You have the wrong number again,’ Harley said.
‘I’m sorry but I really can’t help you. Try ringing a different number,’ she added then hung up.
Heading up to her room, she finished off getting dressed then picked up Yogi again. The tiny dog had been making a nest in her bedding. Going downstairs, Harley set him down on his own bed and went into the kitchen. There was a large puddle of water on the floor with a white scum on top of it.
‘Yogi! Did you do this?’ Harley called, ‘bad dog!’
Grabbing a tea towel, she began to mop the floor. Then though she noticed the far spread of the puddle because it filled the square space between the fridge-freezer, dishwasher, sink of the narrow kitchen. Also it was very close to Yogi’s bowls.
Puzzling and no longer thinking the dog had done this, Harley inspected the fridge-freezer, sink and dishwasher. Everything seemed okay. She went upstairs and got an old towel from the cupboard. Setting it on the floor, she saw drips coming out of the corner of the dishwasher.
‘Great,’ she mumbled then added, ‘I’m sorry Yogi. It wasn’t you!’
Getting up, she went to find the dog but the phone rang. Throwing her hands up, Harley went to answer it.
‘Hello dear. My husband his left some books on the bus. I was wondering if you could help us?’ an elderly woman’s voice asked.
Harley sighed deeply and brushed her hair back, ‘I’m sorry,’ she said trying to stay calm, ‘but this isn’t the bus station. You have the wrong number. This is a private house.’
‘Ah, I’m terribly sorry about that. Goodbye,’ the old woman said.
The phone clicked and Harley hung it up again. Going into the living room, she give some reassurance to Yogi then went into the kitchen and made some toast with jam on. Sitting down, she watched some TV, channel flicking between a house D.I.Y show and a famous courtroom drama. Though she had to get up a couple of times to use the bathroom.
Taking her breakfast things into the kitchen, Harley noticed that the dishwasher was leaking badly. The towel she had set down had a large half circle ring across it. Opening the door and breaking off the washing cycle, she looked inside and move a few plates and pans around. Dirty water fell out of the corner like a small waterfall.
Closing the door again, she waited as the dishwasher started again. However, water still dripped from the corner.
‘Dad will have to fix that,’ Harley spoke.
Leaving it and going to her computer, she pressed the on button and also turned the monitor on. Whilst she waited, she looked at a calendar on her desk. Under today, she had written; write chapter 23. working at shop- 5-11pm.
Harley’s face fell, she had forgotten she was working. She doubled checked on the calendar in her phone and confirmed it. Sighing, she noticed the computer was done loading and clicked open the draft of her novel. She had barely started reading the last few pages when the phone rang.
‘I’m not answer it!’ she called.
Yogi began howling in the living room.
‘I mean it,’ she growled.
Letting the phone ring off and Yogi’s long yowling faded away, Harley got back to her novel. She reached the last page with writing on it and tapped down to the blank one underneath. Looking at the page, she tried hard to think.
The phone rang.
‘Seriously!’ she cried.
Harley got up and answered the phone.
‘Is that the bus station? My parents have lost some books,’a young man’s voice asked.
‘No. It’s not and I don’t know why they keep ringing my phone number,’ Harley moaned.
‘I’m sorry. There must be a problem with the line. It’s fine. I’ll go down to the bus station and sorted it. Thanks, bye.’
Harley set the phone down and rubbed her eyes.
‘That’s it! I’m going back to bed!’ Harley declared.
I’ve no idea how I ended up walking through this field. But here I am surrounded by long grass, wild flowers and the calling of birds. It’s a warm afternoon, but I can’t see the sun above me and the sky is a strange off blue color.
There’s a cottage ahead. The yellow thatch roof rising through the green leafy trees and tall bushes. There’s nothing else to do but go over and see if anybody is home. The field leads me to a small brown fence over which is a short carpet of grass. Bright flowers dot around the cottage and a wire washing line is stretched in the garden.
I go to climb over then stop. There’s an old woman beating a green rug on the washing line with a wooden tennis racket looking thing. Her white hair is piled up on top of her head and she’s wearing many skirts, a grey blouse and a pale blue apron. I can just about hear the thwacking sounds.
Climbing the fence, I walk slowly over, hoping that she spots me before I have to call out. Luckily, she does and she stops her work long before I reach her.
‘Hallo!’ she calls out and waves the tennis racket thing.
‘Hi,’ I answer back with a wave too.
‘Nice day for a walk,’ she adds.
‘Yes,’ I reply.
I come to the end of the washing line and look up. There are many green rugs hanging down…actually….they are strips of grass….
Puzzled, I look across the garden and see strips of dirt close by. There’s also a small red wheelbarrow, a spade and a large black bucket.
‘I’m just dusting my lawn,’ the old woman says, cheerily and as if that’s a perfectly normal thing to do.
I open my mouth, questions popping, but no words come out.
‘It can get quite dusty you know. And yes, there are other ways to do it but I prefer the good old fashioned method!’
She shows me how by beating a strip of grass. Only, she does it lighter then before.
I nod and slowly say, ‘how does it get dusty?’
‘Oh! Heaven knows!’ she cries and throws her hands up to the sky.
I glance up, half expecting to see a pig flying by.
‘Do you some time to spare? I’d be ever so grateful if you could help me,’ she asks and nods towards the dirt strips.
I look around, shrug and reply, ‘why not?’
‘Good. Then start digging, deary!’
Still puzzled, I walk to where the last dirt strip is as the old woman takes up beating the grass again. Looking down, I see how she’s cut the strips out and then I pick up the spade and start with the next one.
It’s actually easier then it seems as it appears the grass is use to being cut up. I slice the spade in and make my way around. It’s like a knife through butter. The smell of fresh cut grass and unearthed soil floods my nose. The grass strip comes up and I put it into the wheelbarrow. I start on another and quickly cut that strip loose too.
I look up as I place it into the wheelbarrow and I see the old woman taking down the first strip of grass. I watch her replace it into the lawn then return for the second piece.
‘This is so weird,’ I mumble.
Returning to my task, I dig up more pieces of grass and when the wheelbarrow is full I drive it over. I help the old woman take them out and hang them up. She begins beating the first one and dust raises off it.
‘How long does this take you?’ I ask her.
‘A few days,’ she answers.
‘And how many times do you do this?’
‘Oh, three or four times a year!’
‘Grass gets very dusty in the summer, deary,’ she explains.
I look at her, but her face is just that of a plain woman in her early seventies. Her cheeks are fat and wrinkled like the rest of her skin. Her eyes are a warm blue, shinning with knowledge and happiness. Her white hair is long and tightly held back in a bun. Around her neck is a string of white pearls and there’s an old wedding ring on her finger.
‘Don’t you have anyone to help you?’ I ask aloud.
‘Sometimes, I do,’ she replies with a mysterious tone to her words, ‘it’s mostly just me though. I don’t mind. Keeps me busy.’
I nod and hear a shrill whistle sounding. Looking, it seems to be coming from the cottage and there’s smoke now rising out of the chimney.
‘It’s time for tea. Do you want to join me?’ the old woman asks.
She hurries off, leaving the grass strips on the washing line but taking the tennis racket with her. I follow and go through the small blue door after her. It leads straight into a kitchen. I stand in the doorway and look around.
It’s a very old fashioned farmer’s wife like kitchen. There’s a huge black wood burning stove against the far wall. A large oak table and chairs in the middle, a metal sink and draining board under a netted curtain window. Sky blue cupboards and work surfaces line another wall.
The old woman rattles around cups and things. Humming to herself. I pull out a chair and look down to see a fat old ginger cat curled up on it. I pull out another chair instead and sit down. I hear a clock ticking somewhere and the warmth of the kitchen hugging me like a old friend.
‘Here we are,’ the old woman says and sets down a tea tray.
There’s a tea pot wearing a tea cosy, milk jug, sugar cube bowl, a plate of biscuits, two pattern flower china cups and matching saucers.
‘Thanks,’ I reply.
We have tea and it’s good. I nibble at a biscuit and look around the kitchen. There’s not much else to see though. I want to talk, but I don’t really know what to say. Finally, the old woman breaks the silence.
‘I must get back to keeping my corner of the world tidied now and you should be getting home.’
‘Home?’ I say aloud.
‘Yes. It’ll be dark soon and the woods can be a dangerous place. Even for yourself.’
She pats my arm and gets up.
‘But….I don’t know the way…I found myself in that field. I don’t even know where I am!’ I cry.
The old woman tuts at me, ‘just head back the way you came, deary.’
I move my tea cup away and get up.
‘Goodbye,’ she says and gives me a little wave.
I don’t wave back, but go straight out the door, too confused to speak.
In the garden, the grass is still hanging on the washing line and there are dirt strips in the lawn. The sky is turning a dark blue and the birds are still singing. I walk off, feeling like that’s the only thing I can do. I go back over the fence and through the field. I look back at the cottage, smoke is still coming out of the chimney and the old woman has gone back to beating the grass again.
I turn, take a step and stumble. My legs go out from under me and I land face first in the grass. My eyes shut. I take a deep breath and open then again…And I am no longer in the field.
My study comes to life before my eyes. I blink and the rest of the long grass is gone, replaced by the bookcases, my desk and a fire crackling of the fireplace. I sit up in the deep plush chair, disturbing the book that’s slipped down on to my lap. I pick it up and read the title; Maps Of The Old Worlds.
He wanted to do some daring to start the new year off with. So, he jumped out of plane with nothing on his back.
A dose of fetish. Good friends. An incomparable muse.
The Author Blog of Jason H. Abbott
Welcome to my Blog of short and long stories.
Learning and teaching the art of composition.